Planet of Apes Ullstein Bild/Getty Images

Qu'est-ce qui fait de nous des humains ?

ST ANDREWS, ÉCOSSE – Le mois dernier, les spectateurs se sont pressés dans les salles de cinéma pour voir La Planète des Singes - Suprématie, dans lequelune armée de primates modifiés par un rétrovirus entre en guerre contre l'humanité. Des chimpanzés à cheval, des gorilles armés de mitrailleuses et des orangs-outangs savants font sans aucun doute les ingrédients d'un bon film. Mais des événements de ce genre pourraient-ils se produire dans la vie réelle ?

Dans le roman de 1963 de Pierre Boulle La Planète des Singes, dont les films sont tirés, le voyageur de l'espace Ulysse Mérou est échoué sur une planète terrifiante gouvernée par des gorilles, des orangs-outangs et des chimpanzés qui ont copié la langue, la culture et la technologie de leurs anciens maîtres. Les humains quant à eux ont dégénéré en bêtes brutales et primitives.

Une grande part du réalisme sinistre de l'œuvre La Planète des Singes provient de l'impressionnante attention accordée par Boulle aux détails scientifiques et aux connaissances de la recherche de l'époque sur le comportement animal. Son livre puise dans la notion encore populaire selon laquelle des animaux tels que les chimpanzés et les dauphins ont des systèmes de communication secrets mais complexes que les humains ne peuvent pas même imaginer. Bien des gens préfèrent croire que tous ces scientifiques « arrogants » qui ont conclu que les animaux ne savent pas parler n'ont tout simplement pas réussi à décoder les appels des animaux.

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